The Gopher Women's Hockey Team announced their 2014-15 Schedule on Wednesday. The Gophers who are coming off of a crushing loss to Clarkson in the NCAA Championship game will attempt to make it back to the NCAA Frozen Four next season, which for the second time in three seasons will be held at Ridder Arena. The Gophers will have several of their star players returning, including two significant additions in 2012-13 Patty Kazmaier Award Winner Amanda Kessel and Lee Stecklein who missed the 2013-14 season playing with the US Olympic Team. Both players will step immediately back into the lineup which will remain stacked with returning talent including Rachel Bona, Hannah Brandt and Dani Cameranesi as forwards, Rachel Ramsey and Mllica McMillen on the blue line, and Amanda Leveille in goal.
The Gophers season begins with a new tournament at home at Ridder Arena. The Gophers will begin the season with a game against Big Ten, but not Women's WCHA foe Penn State on October 3rd. The next night will be a rematch of the 2014 NCAA Quarterfinal held at Ridder between the Gophers and Boston University. The Gophers defeated the Terriers and advanced to the Frozen Four. St. Cloud State will play the team opposite the Gophers opponents in the other games.
The other two non-conference series for the Gophers will be a road series at Princeton on Thanksgiving Weekend, and a home series against St. Lawrence to start off 2015. Both teams finished in the middle of the pack in the ECAC last season and should not prove much of a challenge to Minnesota.
The Gophers will start the WCHA season off as hard as possible as they start the season with the three toughest teams in the conference besides themselves. Minnesota starts the WCHA season on October 10th and 11th with a trip to Duluth and a series against UMD. They follow that up the next weekend with a trip to arch-rival, Wisconsin. The next week, the Gophers get to come back home to Ridder Arena, but will face arch-rival #2 in North Dakota. Three weekends, six games, and we will know exactly how this team will react to being tested.
The season gets significantly easier from there as Minnesota will face Bemidji State, Ohio State and MSU-Mankato. The Gophers will play a special game on Monday November 24th against St Cloud State. The game will be held a Bremar Arena in Edina as a special US Hockey Hall of Fame Game. The U says additional information on this game will be coming in the future, so it will be interesting to see what special features they will have in place.
Remaining series of note for the Gophers in 2015 include the return trip to Ridder by Wisconsin on January 10 and 11, a trip to Grand Forks on February 6th and 7th, and finishing the home regular season and Senior Night for Kessel, Ramsey, Bona and others against UMD the next weekend. The WCHA Final Face-off is in Grand Forks this season, and as was stated before, the NCAA Frozen Four will be back at Ridder Arena.
It should be another great season for the Gopher Women. Just like the Men's team, expectations will be exceptionally high with the return of Kessel and Stecklein. Hopefully on March 22, 2015 we will all be celebrating a third NCAA Championship in four seasons in Minneapolis!